Reason #4: The agency gave a great pitch.
We’ve all heard this one. There were four agencies on the short list, and it was clear that agency X was the frontrunner. Then agency Y comes in (from the Midwest, no less!) and knocks the client over and and knocks the incumbent out of a healthy set of billings. They must have done one heck of a pitch!
“The Pitch” is the holy grail for some advertising and marketing practitioners. It’s the closing argument of the prosecutor; the 2-minute wrap of the hopeful candidate; the coach’s impassioned locker room speech; heck, it’s the warbly proposal on bended knee. It’s the one chance the agency has to articulate how it sees the problem, how it crafts the strategy and how it envisions and stylizes the solution. It’s the only legitimized method left in modern business to say “pick me!”
Remember Don Draper’s “carousel” speech on Mad Men? In less than 3 minutes, he encapsulated the problem for Kodak’s slide projector, (that they didn’t have a “technology” sale to make,) added a healthy dose of personal passion, and created new terminology for the client to use as a go-to-market differentiator. Perfectly presented. And punctuated emphatically by the account director’s closing remarks: “Good luck at your next meeting.” Wow.
Marketers love getting pitched. And why wouldn’t you? Imagine you had a problem and you could ask 10 prominent psychoanalysts to give you their best recommendations – FOR FREE. One by one, they march in, they flatter you and your personality accomplishments. They ease into your shortcomings. They postulate the provenance of your problems. They offer a unique analysis and then lay out an expansive road map to a solution. And then they thank you for the opportunity. How wonderfully indulgent!
On one hand, hiring an agency because they gave a great pitch is a bit like getting married after a first date. Sure, it’s always fun and flirty in the beginning, and full of possibility. But a long-term relationship is something different, and something that requires work, and patience, and more work and the ability to articulate what you WANT from the relationship. Some agencies pitch well, and have a hard time delivering on all those lofty promises. Or don’t see the implications of what they propose. And be aware, small and midsize marketers: some agencies stack the deck by hiring great pitchers. There are professionals out there who know how to get into character and learn how to read a room, and learn what the CMO or marketing VP is dealing with, and craft a story so compelling, it’s hard to resist.
But, on the other hand, hiring an agency because they gave a great pitch is not always the worst move a marketer can make. In some ways, the marketer gets to hear first-hand how the agency perceives your marketing problems. And in this way, the marketer can sift through whether or not that agency “gets it” with the product offering, has the requisite knowledge of the vertical, of the client’s customer base, and many more subtle but important facets of going to market. In many ways, marketers don’t always know what they want, but they know when someone is close, because they can hear it somewhere in the details.
You may not always know what you’re looking for when you’re hiring an agency, but you might want to collaborate with a team that’s stumbled onto something fresh and new in reviewing your business. You might learn that an agency has discovered an insight about your business or your customers and has sound processes and systems to get that insight articulated into a message and then get that message into the hands of the people who matter most. And you might even learn something new in the process. All in all, if you got any of THAT from an agency pitch, it’s not a terrible reason to hire an agency.
Tomorrow – Reason #5: We don’t have a marketing department.